According to whose will: The entanglements of gender & religion in the lives of transgender Jews with an Orthodox background

  • Datum: 06 maj, kl. 14.00
  • Plats: Aula minus, Museum Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, 753 10, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Poveda Guillén, Oriol
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Religionssociologi
  • Kontaktperson: Poveda Guillén, Oriol
  • Disputation

This study, the first in its scope on transgender religiosity, is based on in-depth biographical interviews with 13 transgender participants with a Jewish Orthodox background (currently and formerly Orthodox). The primary aim of the study has been to elucidate the entanglements of gender and religion in three periods of the participants’ lives: pre-transition, transition and post-transition.

One of the main topics investigated have been the ways participants negotiated gendered religious practices in those three periods. A secondary aim of this study has been to co-theorize, in dialogue with the participants, different possible paths for religious change; that is, the ways in which the larger Orthodox community might respond to the presence of openly transgender members in its midst.

Concerning the findings, in the course of this study I have developed the themes of dislocations and reversal stories to explain how the participants negotiated the entanglements of gender and religion particularly in the transitional and post-transitional periods. The latter theme–reversal stories–has been of special relevance to explain how gendered religious practices, which were generally detrimental to the acceptance of the participants’ gender identities during the pre-transitional period, had the potential to become a powerful source for gender affirmation after transition. In this study I argue that this possibility and its related mode of agency are not contained within the binary resistance/subordination that feminist scholars have developed to account for the agency of women in traditionalist religions. In order to better conceptualize the notion of agency and explore the nature of the mutual entanglements of gender and religion, I deploy the body of theoretical work developed by Karen Barad known as agential realism. Lastly, I conclude by examining my initial commitments to social constructionism (in Peter Berger’s definition). In the final chapter, I describe how in the course of my study I have encountered three unexpected sites of resistance to social constructionism that have led me to reconsider my previous epistemological commitments and embrace posthumanism as a more satisfactory alternative.